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Flanders and the EU

The Government of Flanders considers the European Union (EU) to be the foremost and primary lever for Flemish foreign policy. European politics has long stopped being an exclusive matter of foreign policy, but has become an integral part of domestic politics.  

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Flanders in the European Union

The Flemish administration deals with the EU on a daily basis in almost all the Flemish policy areas. For instance, when transposing directives into domestic law, or when the Government of Flanders has to adhere to respect for fundamental rights and freedoms when developing legislation or make budgetary agreements under the Stability and Growth Pact(opens in new window).

The EU has a major impact on Flanders. Flanders therefore benefits from a powerful union that takes Flanders’ concerns and interests into account.

Flanders' voice in Europe

Flanders co-determines the positions that Belgium takes in the Council of the European Union for areas for which it has competence, and Flemish ministers can represent Belgium in Council meetings. The internal division of powers within Belgium is extended to foreign policy (in foro interno, in foro externo). Practical agreements on the adoption of positions and the representation in the EU are laid down in a cooperation agreement between the different authorities in Belgium.

Flanders’ positions are prepared and coordinated within the Flemish administration, and then dealt with in meetings across all the Belgian Regions and other community divisions.

Given the importance and impact of EU policy on Flanders, Flanders is strongly committed to maintaining direct links with the EU and adopting a proactive EU approach within the Flemish administration.

More information on the European Union(opens in new window)

Delegation of Flanders to the European Union

The Government of Flanders has a Delegation to the EU. It represents the interests of the Government of Flanders in the European institutions and is officially part of the Permanent Representation (the Embassy) of Belgium to the EU.

The Delegation of Flanders to the European Union consists of a Diplomatic Representative, assisted by a Deputy Diplomatic Representative, attachés seconded from the various policy areas, a Flemish Economic Representative from Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT) and a secretariat.

More information on the Delegation of Flanders to the EU(opens in new window)

The impact of the EU in Flanders

Just about every European decision has a direct or indirect impact on citizens in Flanders. The Government of Flanders also has an impact on European decisions and is authorised to implement European regulations that affect its powers. European treaties require Flanders to transpose European directives into domestic regulations in a timely and correct manner.

In addition, the European Union supports and subsidises projects and programmes in Flanders that fit within the objectives, priorities and functioning of the EU. That includes cross-border cooperation, research and development, agricultural and fisheries policies and structural funds that provide incentives for the development of those sectors. Organisations such as governments, knowledge institutes, companies and business umbrella organisations work together in these projects.

The European Union has been ensuring peace, stability and prosperity on the European continent for more than half a century, attaching great importance to democracy, the rule of law and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms.

The European single market and trade policy are essential to Flanders’ open economy. The Union also connects Flemish citizens with other EU citizens, including through free movement of people, student mobility and so on.

In short, the EU permeates all aspects of our daily lives. That is why the Government of Flanders and the entire Flemish administration are strongly committed to it.